FALL 2013


This mid-level course will examine the development of various theories of ethics and social justice from the ancient Hebrew tradition of Torah and the prophets, the political theory of Aristotle, and the New Testament writers Luke and Matthew to modern discussions about social, political, and economic justice. We will explore how modern social theorists have employed the Natural Law principles of the Ancient Hebrews (covenant, community, human dignity, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee, economic redistribution, and critique of idolatry), Classical Hellenes (virtue, moral economy, reciprocity, grace, need, friendship, political wisdom, and participatory democracy), and Late Hellenists (need, community, care of the poor, and distributive justice) as the basis for their ideas on social ethics and economic democracy. Questions of alienation, individual freedom, economic development, possessive individualism, natural rights, and social justice will be major themes in this study of Liberalism, Christianity, and Marxism. Special emphasis will be on contemporary debates about the ethics of democratic capitalism and democratic socialism, including conservative theology and philosophy and radical liberation theology. Readings will be from the Torah, New Testament, Aristotle, Pope John Paul II, M. Friedman, H. Sherman, K. Marx, E. Fromm, P. Farmer, E. F. Schumacher, and R. Pirsig. Prerequisite: introductory sociology or religious studies courses or permission of the instructor. This course is cross-listed in Sociology and Religious Studies as Socy 243 and Rlst 380, respectively.


Aristotle, The Politics
American Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All
New Oxford Annotated Bible: Torah, Isaiah, Amos, Luke, and Matthew
M. Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom
John Paul II, On Human Work (Laborem Exercens)
Robert Reich, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future
E. Fromm, Marx's Concept of Man (contains Marx's Early Economic and Philosophical Writings of 1844)
P. Farmer, Pathologies of Power
E. F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful
R. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Recommended Readings

A. McGovern, Marxism: An American Christian Perspective
G. McCarthy and R. Rhodes, Eclipse of Justice: Ethics, Economics, and the Lost Traditions of American Catholicism


There will be a mid-term and final examination. Questions will be given out 2-3 weeks prior to the test from which two or three questions will be chosen the day of the exam. Classroom attendance is naturally required, as is participation in the weekly discussion groups organized and led by students themselves. The goal of the course is to encourage students to become actively involved in their own education and enlightenment by discussing the required readings every Friday afternoon. The final grade for the course will be based on 1/3 mid-term, 1/3 final examination, and 1/3 class participation.

Professor McCarthy's office hours are MWF from 8:00 to 9:30 AM in Treleaven House, Room 202, 105 Brooklyn St. Appointments to see him at other times may be made during the day, or immediately before or after class. His email address is "" Professor Rhodes' office hours are MWF from 10:00 to 11:30 AM in Ascension House, Room 25, and by appointment. His email address is ""



1. American Catholic
Bishops Conference
Economic Justice for All
2. Torah The New Oxford Annotated Bible
Leviticus 25-26
Deuteronomy 15 and 24:14-15
Isaiah 26-28; 40:12-23; 44:1-20; and 61:1-2
3. Aristotle The Politics, Books I, III, IV, and VI ii
(Recommended: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book 5 and
George E. McCarthy, "Aristotle on Social Justice and Classical Democracy," in Dreams in Exile:
Rediscovering Science and Ethics in Nineteenth-Century Social Theory)

4. Milton Friedman Capitalism and Freedom (introduction and chapters 1, 2, 7, 10-13), pp. 1-36, 108-118, 161-202
(Recommended: Video presentations/lectures by Milton Friedman on Youtube)
5. Pope John Paul II On Human Labor and
G. McCarthy and R. Rhodes, Eclipse of Justice, chapter 5
(Recommended: Pope Benedict XVI, Message on World Day of Peace, January 1, 2013 and
Caritas in Veritate, 2009)
6. Robert Reich Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future and
McCarthy and Rhodes, Eclipse of Justice,, chapters 1-4
7. Robert Reich Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future and
McCarthy and Rhodes, Eclipse of Justice, chapter 4)
8. Luke Luke and Matthew in the New Testament
9. Luke Luke in the New Testament and
Douglas E. Oakman, The Political Aims of Jesus (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012)
(Recommended: M. Douglas Meeks, God the Economist: The Doctrine of God and Political Economy,
Intro, Chapts. 1 and 2, pp. 1-45, Jim Wallis, God's Politics, part IV, "Spiritual Values and Economic Justice,"
pp. 209-293, and United Nations General Assembly, Universal Declaration of Human Rights in
10. Erich Fromm Marx's Concept of Man,
Fromm's, "Introduction," Marx's Concept of Man, pp. 1-83 and Marx's essay,
"Alienated Labor," in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, pp.93-109
11. E. F. Schumacher Small is Beautiful, part I: chapters 1-4 and part III: chapters 1-2,
12. Paul Farmer Pathologies of Power, chapters 5 and 6
13. Robert Pirsig Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
14. Robert Pirsig Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance